Here in the second decade of the 21st century, we often take our ability to get on the internet — fast and from nearly anywhere — for granted like power and water. So when you're at home and trying to work or study or game or watch “Space Force" and your WiFi is super slow or not working at all, it can bring your entire day to a frustrating, grinding halt.
Why is your WiFi not working? There is a bevy of possible reasons. It can be a problem with the WiFi router itself, a problem with your computer or connecting to the WiFi, your internet service from your provider or some environmental issue in your home. In fact, there are so many reasons as to why your WiFi isn't working that the variables make it very hard to put your finger on the problem.
We won't dive into why your internet isn't working, but instead focus on the solutions. Below are a number of fixes to try to get your WiFi-working again.
Are you pretty sure the internet is coming into your home but you still can't connect to the WiFi router? Are you unable to connect to WiFi from any device? That most likely means the problem is with the router itself. These are some fixes for the router and its software.
Yes, it sounds like a n00b move, but did you check the cable? Be sure that the power, the connection to the internet and any other cables are not loose or maybe not plugged in at all. Make everything tight and try again.
Like the internet always says, have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again? Honestly, restarting your router solves the problem nine out of 10 times. You can cycle the power button, but it's best if you restart it physically. Unplug the unit from the outlet, wait a couple of minutes and plug it back in.
While you're waiting for the router to finish, restart whatever device you're trying to connect to — your phone, tablet or laptop — for good measure.
WiFi interference is a real problem. When you install your router, it is usually set on common channels like 1, 6 and 11 which become crowded with people who leave it on the default channel, especially in dense cities and apartment buildings. Bluetooth devices often also interfere with WiFi signals. Try changing your router to a less-used channel.
Many newer model routers will automatically search for the least crowded channel. But if yours does not, or you want to select your own, sign in to your router's admin and manually change channels. Select the 5Ghz band whenever possible for the best signal strength.
Firmware is the program that controls how your device works. Every now and then, it needs updating. Out of date firmware can cause your WiFi to stop working. Follow your computer or device's instructions on how to download new versions and update as needed.
When all else router-related fails, reset the device. Restarting will keep all your data and settings. Resetting will delete everything and start over.
On most routers, press the “Reset" button down with the end of a paper clip for 30 seconds and the device will reset. You will have to set it up again from scratch, but it often solves lingering issues.
Does everything seem ok with your router? Maybe it's your device itself that's having an issue or can't connect to a running WiFi. This is particularly true if you can get internet on one device but not another. If your WiFi is not working, try some of these steps on your laptop, desktop, tablet or phone.
Your laptop's operating system is pretty good at figuring out what's wrong with your connection automatically. Try running the troubleshooter.
On Windows, right-click the wireless icon on the right of your taskbar and click “Troubleshoot." For iOS, select “System Preferences" from the Apple menu, click “Assist Me" and then “Diagnostics."
It sounds simple, but it's also simple to overlook. Make sure WiFi is enabled on your phone or laptop. If it is not, you're never going to connect. Check your device's WiFi indicator and ensure that it's illuminated and turned on.
To check in Windows, go into your search box and type “Network Status," then select “Change adapter settings." Right-click and choose “Enable."
Another novice fix that you may have overlooked is making sure you're on the right network. It happens. Take a look at your wireless networks list and confirm that you're connected to the one coming from your router. It sounds silly but maybe you are trying to connect to a neighbor's similar-sounding SSID.
Turns out you are on the right network? Make sure you are entering or selecting the correct password. Similarly, check to ensure you are not in Airplane mode.
Speaking of passwords, maybe someone else is using yours without you even knowing it. Your connection may be slow or not working because a neighbor stole your password to latch onto your network for free. Or maybe they just never disconnected from it last time they dropped by and got on your WiFi.
Simply go into your settings and change your router's security key, kick everyone off and sign back in with the new password. And be more prudent to whom you give it out.
If you are on the right network but still cannot connect, you can delete or forget the network entirely and start over. In your WiFi settings just click on your network's name and select “Forget This Network" and reconnect with your password.
It's possible that your network reset without you even knowing it. This sometimes happens when your device completes an automatic update. If you go into your networks list and don't see your WiFi network name, it may have been reset.
Look for an unprotected network on the list with your router's brand in the name and check to see if your device recognizes that network as yours. Proceed through connecting and rename your network to something personal again.
Drivers are the software that tells the operating system how to talk to your device. Similar to firmware, drivers get corrupted or need updates from time to time. Using old driver versions can crash your WiFi. Update the drivers on your laptop that control your router, or remove them and let the operating system reinstall the latest version.
Your router and your devices are delicate pieces of electronica. Environmental factors based on the setup of your house or apartment and where you've chosen to place and when to use your WiFi can have an impact. If your WiFi is not working, give some of these household suggestions a shot.
It's possible your issue isn't your router itself, but where it is.
If you need to have devices in multiple rooms, you can also have WiFi in multiple rooms. Just purchase a WiFi extender from a store or your internet service provider.
It's 2021. Your house is likely a superhighway of connected devices. Your laptop, your partner's desktop, your kids' tablet, everyone's phone, video game consoles, smart TVs and refrigerators and doorbells and printers and lights, Google homes and Alexas. You're working while your roommates are Youtubing or playing Ghost Recon. Even your toilet may run on your WiFi. That's a lot for any network.
Start by disconnecting any devices you don't use regularly (or don't use their WiFi capabilities). Then hardwire any fixed devices directly into your router with a Cat-5 Ethernet cable. Still crowded? You may need to bump up your internet service plan to a higher speed with more capacity.
If you are having trouble connecting different devices to your WiFi, the problem may physically be your router. If you've updated firmware and reset your router and still nothing, the router may simply be old and/or out of date.
Electronics become obsolete very fast these days with faster speeds and new standards and simple everyday wear. It may be time for a new and updated router. Every two years is a good window for router replacement in general. Good ones are found online or at your local electronics store, or with a simple call to your internet service provider.
If your router isn't working or you can't connect to your WiFi, or if you're WiFi is down entirely and you have to get work done, you can always hit up a public WiFi. During the current coronavirus crisis, public places like coffee shops and bookstores are a little harder to find. But there are plenty of options of virus-safe and hacker-safe spots to spend an afternoon if needed depending on your location.
Just remember … if you use a Starbucks or a bookshop for their WiFi, make a purchase in exchange for taking up a little space.
Alternately, you can just disconnect for a while and curl up with a good book or a show on traditional TV.
You can't get on your WiFi in any room, on any device, at any time. You've replaced your router or you're sure the router itself isn't the problem. Then you are only left with one option: Call customer technical support.
No one likes sitting on the phone with tech support, and they might just run you through all of these fixes above. But in the end, if you need your WiFi and can't get on your WiFi, let your product or ISP's support get you rolling again. Just remember: They're just doing their jobs so be kind and you'll be back up and running in no time.
It's clear to see that there are a lot of factors and a lot of options when it comes to why your WiFi is not working. It's never necessary to cry and scream at the Internet Gods to fix your WiFi. There's a lot you can do to troubleshoot.
No matter what your issue, you can always check your connection (or just use it) by plugging an Ethernet cable directly into your router, bypassing the WiFi. And when doing so, give your internet speed a test on a website like speedtest.net and see if you're getting solid speeds.